Video Game Designing History



Missile Simulator

Jan 1 1947

Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann file a patent for a "cathode ray tube amusement device." Their game challenges players to fire a gun at a target.

Programming a Computer for Playing Chess

Jan 1 1950

Claude Shannon makes the basic guidelines for programming a chess-playing computer in an article. That same year both he and Englishman Alan Turing create chess programs.

OXO (Tic-Tac-Toe)

Jan 1 1952

A. S. Douglass creates OXO on Cambridge's EDSAC computer as part of his research on human-computer interactions.

Hutspiel (Military War Game)

Jan 1 1955

The long tradition of military wargaming enters the computer age when the U.S. military designs Hutspiel, in which Red and Blue players wage war.


Jan 1 1956

Arthur Samuel demonstrates his computer checkers program on national television. Six years later the program defeats a checkers master.


Jan 1 1958

Willy Higinbotham creates a tennis game on an oscilloscope and analog computer for public demonstration at Brookhaven National Laboratory. It anticipated later video games such as Pong.

Mouse In The Maze

Jan 1 1959

Students at MIT create Mouse in the Maze on MIT's TX-0 computer. Users first draw a maze with a light pen, then a mouse navigates the labyrinth searching for cheese.


Jan 1 1963

Months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U.S. Defense Department completes a computer war game known as STAGE which “shows” that the United States would defeat the Soviet Union in a thermonuclear war.

Computer time-share system / BASIC programming language

Jan 1 1964

Everyone is a programmer. That's the creed of Dartmouth's John Kemeny who creates the computer time-share system and BASIC programming language at Dartmouth. Both make it easy for students to write computer games. Soon countless games are being created.

Idea of playing video games on televisions

Jan 1 1966

While waiting for a colleague at a New York City bus station, Ralph Baer conceives the idea of playing a video game on television. On September 1, he writes down his ideas that become the basis of his development of television video games.

Lunar Lander

Jan 1 1969

Only months after the Apollo XI mission, Lexington, Massachusetts student Jim Storer creates Lunar Lander-- a moon landing simulation game-- on his high school's PDP-8. Variations of this text-based game are developed for other computers, and eventually an arcade version.


Jan 1 1970

Scientific American publishes the rules for LIFE. In this simulation isolated or overcrowded cells die, while others live and reproduce. Hackers rush to implement it on their computers, watching beautiful patterns emerge and change.

Oregon Trail

Jan 1 1971

Minnesota college students Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann, and Paul Dillenberger create Oregon Trail, a simulation of pioneers westward trek. Originally played on a single teletype machine, Rawitsch later brought the game to the Minnesota Educational Computer Consortium which distributed it nationally.


Jan 1 1972

Nolan Bushnell and Al Alcorn of Atari develop an arcade table tennis game. When they test it in Andy Capps Tavern in Sunnydale, California, it stops. Why? Because people played it so much it jammed with quarters. Pong, an arcade legend, is born.

101 BASIC Computer Games

Jan 1 1973

A year after launching the first computer magazine, Creative Computing, David Ahl publishes 101 BASIC Computer Games, allowing gamers to become an ancient Sumerian in HMRABI, find the creatures hiding in a grid in MUGWMP, and general the North versus the South in CIVILW.

Maze Wars

Jan 1 1974

Two decades before Doom, Maze Wars introduces the first-person shooter by taking players into a labyrinth of passages made from wire-frame graphics.


Jan 1 1976

Don Wood's version of the pioneering text-based game, Adventure, plunges players into an imaginary world of caves and treasures. Inspired by Dungeons and Dragons, it paves the way for Zork and thousands of other computer role-playing games.

Space Invaders

Jan 1 1978

Taito's Space Invaders descends on Japan, causing shortage of 100-yen coins. Within a year, 60,000 Space Invaders machines in the United States tempt Americans to spend millions of quarters driving back the seeming unstoppable ranks of attacking aliens.

A Missing Slice of Pizza...

Jan 1 1980

A missing slice of pizza inspires Namco's Toru Iwatani to create Pac-Man, which goes on sale in July 1980. Two years later, Ms. Pac-Man strikes a blow for gender equality by becoming the best-selling arcade game of all time. That year a version of Pac-Man for Atari 2600 becomes a console hit.


Jan 1 1981

Video game fans go ape over Nintendo's Donkey Kong, featuring a character that would later become world-famous: Jumpman. Never heard of him? That's because he's better known as Mario-- the name he took when his creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, makes him the star of a later game by Nintendo.


Jan 1 1982

Disney taps into the video game craze by releasing the movie Tron. An arcade game featuring many of the contests from the movie also becomes a hit.


Jan 1 1983

Multiplayer play takes a huge step forward with Dan Bunten's M.U.L.E. In the game, players compete to gather the most resources while saving their colony on the planet of Irata. (Atari backwards)


Jan 1 1984

Russian mathematician Alexey Pajitnov creates Tetris, a simple but addictive puzzle game. The game leaks out from behind the Iron Curtain, and four years later, Nintendo bundles it with every new Game Boy.

Reader Rabbit

Jan 1 1986

The emerging educational software market leaps ahead with the introduction of The Learning Company's Reader Rabbit program. The educational computer business mushrooms with the introduction of CD-ROMs in the 1900s, but crashes with the rise of the Internet.

Legend of Zelda

Jan 1 1987

It's a good year for fantasy role-playing games, as Shigeru Miyamoto creates Legend of Zelda, SSI wins the video game license for Dungeons and Dragons, and Sierra's Leisure Suit Larry gives players a different kind of adult role playing game.


Jan 1 1988

John Madden Football introduces gridiron realism to computer games, making this game-- and its many console sequels-- perennial best-sellers.


Jan 1 1990

Microsoft bundles a video game version of the classic card game solitaire with Windows 3.0 Millions of users who would not normally pick up a game console find they enjoy playing computer games. Solitaire becomes one of the most popular electronic games ever and provides a gaming model for quick, easy-to-play, casual games like Bejeweled.


Jan 1 1991

Sega needs an iconic hero for its Genesis system and finds it in Sonic the Hedgehog. gamers, especially in the United States, snap up Sega systems and love the little blue guy's blazing speed and edgy attitude.

Dune II

Jan 1 1992

Westwood Studios' Dune II establishes the popularity of real-time strategy games that require players to act as military leaders deploying their resources and forces on the fly in order to defeat opponents.

Mortal Kombat / Doom

Jan 1 1993

Concern about bloodshed in games such as Mortal Kombat prompts United States Senate hearings on video game service. The controversy riles the industry and prompts the creation of a video game rating system. Ironically, that same year the game Doom popularizes "first person shooters."

Warcraft: Orcs and Humans

Jan 1 1994

Blizzard releases Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, a real-time strategy game that introduces millions of players to the legendary world of Azeroth.

Tomb Raider

Jan 1 1996

Lara Croft debuts as the star of Eidos's adventure game Tomb Raider. Players love her, but critics charge that she's an example of sexism in video games.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Jan 1 1998

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time transports players to the richly imagined world of Hyrule, full of engaging characters, thought-provoking puzzles, and the most memorable musical instrument to ever appear in a video game.


Jan 1 1999

Sony Online Entertainment's Everquest leads hundreds of thousands of users to join guilds, fight monsters, and level up in the multiplayer online world of Norrath.

The Sims

Jan 1 2000

Will Wright's The Sims models in real life. It is not the first simulation game-- Utopia on Intellivision, Peter Molyneaux's Populous, Sid Meier's Civilization, and Wright's own SimCity preceded it-- but it becomes the best-selling computer game ever and the most popular game with female players.

America's Army

Jan 1 2002

While walking through the aisles of an electronics store, Lt. Colonel Casey Wardynski conceives of a U.S. Army branded video game. In 2002, the army releases America's Army to help recruit and communicate with a new generation of electronic gamers.


Jan 1 2003

Valve energizes PC gaming with its release of Steam. The digital distribution platform allows players to download, play, and update games.

Rock Band

Jan 1 2007

Grab your guitar, microphone, bass, or drums, and start playing Rock Band. That's what millions of would-be musicians did with Harmonix's hit title.

World of Warcraft

Jan 1 2008

More than 10 million worldwide subscribers make World of Warcraft the most popular massively multiplayer online game. MMOs create entire virtual universes for players and redefine how we play, learn, and relate to each other.

Social / Mobile Gaming

Jan 1 2009

Social games like Farmville and mobile games like Angry Birds shake up the games industry. Millions of people who never would have considered themselves gamers now while away hours playing games on new platforms like Facebook and the iPhone.


Jan 1 2010

The indie game movement comes of age with the tremendous popularity of Minecraft, the addictive brick-building game from Swedish developer Markus Persson.

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim

Jan 1 2011

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim showcases the beauty, majesty, and massiveness of video games as players explore a seemingly endless, beautifully rendered fantasy world.


First computer is created

Jan 1 1940

Edward U. Condon designs a computer for the Westinghouse display at the World's Fair. It plays the traditional game Nim.

First blackjack program

Jan 1 1954

Programmers at New Mexico's Los Alamos laboratories develop the first blackjack program on an IBM-701 computer.

First computer-based video game

Jan 1 1962

MIT student Steve Russell invents Spacewar!, the first computer-based video game. Over the following decade, the game spreads to computers across the country.

First computer football game

Jan 1 1965

A Dartmouth student programs the first computer football game. Earlier that year, John Kemeny and Keith Bellairs had created the first computer game in BASIC.

First chess-champion defeated by a computer

Jan 1 1997

Machine triumphs over man as IBM's supercomputer chess program Deep Blue defeats world champion Gary Kasparov in a match.


"Brown Box"

Jan 1 1967

Ralph Baer develops his “Brown Box,” the video game prototype that lets users play tennis and other games.

First home video game system

Jan 1 1968

Ralph Baer patents his interactive television game. In 1972, Magnavox releases Odyssey the first home video game system, based on his designs.

Home version of Pong

Jan 1 1975

Atari introduces its home version of Pong. Atari's founder, Nolan Bushnell, cannot find any partners in the toy business, so he sells the first units through the Sears Roebuck sporting goods department.

Atari 2600

Jan 1 1977

Atari releases the Video Computer System, more commonly known as the Atari 2600. Featuring a joystick, interchangeable cartridges, games in color, and switches for selecting games and setting difficulty level, it makes millions of Americans home video game players.


Jan 1 1979

Toy-maker Mattel supplements its handheld electronic games with a new console, the Intellivision. Intellivision has better graphics and more sophisticated controls than Atari 2600, and players love is sports games. Mattel sells three million Intellivision units.


Jan 1 1985

The Nintendo Entertainment System revives an ailing United States video game industry two years after the Nintendo Corporation released it in Japan as Famicon.

Game Boy / Microvision

Jan 1 1989

Nintendo's Game Boy popularizes handheld gaming. Game Boy is not the first handheld system with interchangeable cartridges-- Milton Bradley introduces Microvision 10 years earlier-- but it charms users with its good play, ease of use, and long battery life.


Jan 1 1995

Sony releases PlayStation in the United States, selling $100 less than the Sega Saturn. The lower price point, along with the arrival of the Nintendo 64 in 1996, weakens Sega's home console business. When Sony PlayStation 2 debuts in 2000, it becomes the dominant home console business.


Jan 1 2001

Microsoft enters the video game market with Xbox and hit games like Halo: Combat Evolved. Four years later, Xbox 360 gains millions of fans with its advanced graphics and seamless online play.

Nintendo DS

Jan 1 2004

Nintendo maintains its dominance of the handheld market with the Nintendo DS, an easy-to-use, portable gaming system packed with two processors, two screens, multiplayer capabilities, and a stylus for the touchscreen.

Xbox 360!

Jan 1 2005

Microsoft's Xbox 360 brings high-definition realism to the game market, as well as even better multiplayer competitions on Xbox Live and popular titles such as Alan Wake.


Jan 1 2006

Nintendo Wii gets gamers off the couch and moving with innovative, motion-sensitive remotes. Not only does Nintendo make gaming more active, it also appeals to millions of people who never before liked video games.